Maintaining Our Joy Strength During the Holidays

Maintaining our Joy Strength During the Holidays 

Introduction: Thanksgiving and Christmas may amplify relational and emotional pain we carry during the year. Watching others enjoy the holidays may trigger our loneliness. The family focus of the holidays reminds us of not feeling like we belong. Holidays increase the amount of time we spend around people with whom we have broken relationships. We miss loved ones who are no longer a part of our lives. When our holidays aren’t what we hoped for or expected, it’s good to recognize that our joy strength may be low and all these things drain our emotional, spiritual and physical strength. What brings us joy strength is the experience of God’s presence, Immanuel being glad to be with us and other people who are glad to be with us and we are glad to be with them.

God’s promises received by faith and trust release joy strength.

1. God gives us promises to bless and strengthen us. “God is giving you strength today.”

  • Joshua 1:9  Be strengthened and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
  • Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength.
  • Psalm 121:1-2 . I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.  The Message
  • Ezekiel 34:16 God says, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.”

2. We are strengthened by hope—anticipation of good happening.  

  • What are you looking forward to that helps you smile? 
  • Advent is a season of hope, anticipation, expectation, waiting for the promise of a son, Immanuel.
  • Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • Matthew 1:23 The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

3. When we feel like we are falling God’s strength is like eagle’s wings lifting us up. Isaiah 40:29-31 Even young people grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

4. Speaking out loud to Jesus, asking what we want Jesus to give us strengthens our faith.  Bartimaeus, a blind man, shouts  Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He answered, “Lord, I want to see.”  Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved  you.” Mark 10:51-52

We pray out loud “I open my heart to you Jesus, help me to perceive your presence in my life.”

5. God uses the prayers of others for us to strengthen us (intercession).  

  • Jesus is our intercessor: Romans 8:34  Christ Jesus….is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” 
  • Philippians 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.
  • Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. 
  • Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
  • Jesus help……have mercy on……rescue…….save….protect……provide…..deliver….. 
  • Blessing prayers: I bless you with……joy strength, grace, peace, mercy, love.

6. What makes the holidays a hard time?  Life Model Works webinar, 2016

Jim Wilder: What makes holidays either good or difficult is the same thing—our attachments. The brain is designed for attachments. The thalamus is our attachment center. As babies we are attached to love or fear. When it is an attachment the brain doesn’t allow substitutions, We can’t give you another animal, or spouse or child. What brings us joy is people who are glad to be with us. What makes the holidays miserable is if someone is missing or is not glad to be with us. When we look forward to Christmas our attachments are in good shape. If we are dreading it— it is because there is someone our attachment center is looking for or someone who ultimately is not going to be glad to be with us.  Many dread the holidays because of the attachment pain you or others face. There is no built in solution that turns off the attachment pain. I don’t want to think about someone who died, is missing, on the road away from the family. We may develop the Scrooge symptoms: “bah humbug”. We say, “I am not going to even think about, it or invest in it.” We pretend it doesn’t matter. When you do this long enough you can convince yourselves you don’t care. What causes the most pain is we want joy. When others act like they don’t care it produces attachment pain, rejection, loneliness, feeling unwanted. One person’s protection is, not to feel pain. If we are in a lot of attachment pain we are hurting too much to bring joy to the world.

Papa Joe:  Jesus is the best one to be with us in our attachment pain. He is Immanuel, with us in our pain feeling tender towards our weakness, glad to be with us, knowing and understanding how big and overwhelming attachment pain is and big and overwhelming emotions of sadness, fear, dread, humiliation, anger and shame may be.

 

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Let Jesus Be Your Rabbi

Resources: “Jesus Clear and Simple in Times of Struggle” James G. Friesen
“The Divine Conspiracy”  Dallas Willard

1. Let Jesus be your rabbi.  We embrace the “yoke” of our rabbi Jesus. 

“Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn from me and you will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 

  • In Jesus’ time, the phrase, “”take my yoke” was another way of saying, “you need to let me be your rabbi:”, “You need to become my disciple.”  The “yoke” of a rabbi in Jesus’ time was his teachings, his way of life.  Jesus invited his disciples to let him be their rabbi, take on his “yoke”.  His yoke “fits us perfectly”. A disciple doesn’t just want to know what the rabbi knows. A disciple wants to be like the rabbi and to learn got do what the rabbi does. 
  • “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30, The Message, Eugene Peterson. 

 2. Our rabbi Jesus teaches us to pray. “Our Father who art in heaven….” The Greek word for heaven is plural in Matthew’s Gospel.  “Our Father in the heavens,” is different than “Our Father in heaven.” In Hebrew thinking there are three heavens: (1) the first heaven, in biblical terms, is the atmosphere, the air that sounds us—our personal space (2) the sky and universe (3) where we go when we die. A father who is far away “in heaven” does not seem near at all.  To acknowledge  our Father’s  immediate availability in our personal space is how we are directed to begin our prayers.  When Jesus was leaving his disciples He told them,   “I am with you always.” Jesus’ words  in the Lord’s Prayer about daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil refer to times of struggle. Our  dear (abba) Father is always near and he will help us, especially in times of struggle.

3.  Jesus’ initial teaching is “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has come near.” Matthew 4:17 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching,  proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people Matthew 4:23 

  • The kingdom is right next to us.  It is already here, available to us right now.  Our Father is always ready to begin a relationship with us.  Our lives are  transformed when we invite our Father to help us.  His power and guidance are available to us for the asking.  We give our Father a chance.  We talk everything over with our Father especially in times of struggle. We let our Father teach us how to think and act.  He will change us from the inside out. He will help us our turn our life around.  God will be right there to help us with every struggle we bring to him.   It will be a very close relationship. We never give up because the presence of God has come to us right where we are.  He will help us with anything the comes up. 
  • The kingdom is God getting his way, the effective range of his will.  Our “kingdom” and “queendom”  is whatever we have say over.  We ask God  to be in charge of our personal affairs, our kingdoms and queendoms.  We surrender our kingdoms to his kingdom. We seek his kingdom above all else and let God reign in every part of our life.  God will bring his kingdom (rule and reign) into every part of our life.  The kingdom of God has arrived in our personal space to help us turn our life around (repent). Our Father will help us especially in times of struggle with anything that comes up by joining us in our personal spaces.’

4.  We find the beginning of Jesus’ core message in the beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.  The beatitudes are examples of how of Jesus will help us when we invite him into our personal space.  In the “beatitudes” Jesus takes up various kinds and classes of people that in his day were thought to be unblessed and unblessable, and he shows how the kingdom of God is available to them and how they too can be blessed. God’s blessing will rest on you even if you are poor, hungry, weeping and despised.  “In this renewal, there is neither  norJew nor Greek, (non-Jewish), circumcised uncircumcised (insider or outsider)  barbarian or Scythian (barbarian’s’ barbarian), slave or free, but Christ is all and in all, everyone is included in Christ.” Colossians 3:11

  • The Beatitudes are clear and simple and they are for you and me.  Jesus was not saying it is good to be broken, sad or any of the other areas of struggle. The  beatitudes  are statements designed to show the nature of the rule of heaven by contradicting the ordinary human assumptions about who is well off and who is miserable.
  • Matt 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.”That is: “Blessed are the spiritually deprived, the spiritually bankrupt since they too can have the kingdom.” Blessed are the intellectually deficient, uneducated, religiously disrespectable, “deplorables”.  The disciples whom Jesus chose were all of this sort.  Jesus invites the “not-good-enoughs to let him be their rabbi.  Jesus has confidence that we will be like our rabbi.
  •  “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?” MSG 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
  • The beatitudes are not commands on what we must do to be good enough to be blessed. The cause of the blessing is not in the condition in which the blessing is received but in spite of and in the midst of our “deplorable”  condition. They announce that those counted by our culture to be in a hopeless condition are not, due to the availability of the kingdom.
  • Simon and Garfunkel in their song “Blessed” describe creatively those who are blessed, “Blessed are the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on, meth drinkers, pot sellers, Illusion dwellers, the stained glass, window pane glass, the church service makes me nervous, penny rookers, cheap hookers, groovy lookers”  Jesus is saying that even in all our  struggles and difficult situations, our Father’s presence will bring something good from them. 
  • The beatitudes  could be called “the blessings”. When Jesus began to preach the Sermon on the Mount he did not use that word. beatitudes”. That word is not in the Greek New Testament. The beatitudes are God’s blessings made available to us in the kingdom of God.
  • God’s blessings promise that he will bring something good from all of our suffering. The blessings are for you and me.  That is why Jesus taught them—so that people like you and I could receive God’s  blessing.  A blessing is more than a few kind words or a touch on the forehead.  A blessings dwells with us, beats with our heart, finds its way into the middle of our struggles and somehow brings good out of them.  Our Father’s gracious presence, abiding with us, is what makes a blessing come to life.  

Eight  Blessings:  Promises of Jesus to Assist Us in Times of Struggle and Trouble 

1.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” God’s blessing rests on those who are spiritually broken. The kingdom of the heavens is for them, and it makes everything new.  Dear Father, I am spiritually broken. Welcome me into your kingdom. Fill my life with your presence, which makes everything new.

2.  “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” God’s blessing rests on those who are overcome with sadness.  God’s  immediate comfort is always near. Dear Father, whenever I am overcome with sadness please provide your presence to comfort me. 

3. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” God’s blessing rests on those who are humble, gentle, content with who they are, no more, no less. God will help them win in the end. Dear Father, help me tender towards my weakness. Please surround me with your presence, and help me not to give up.

4.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” God’s blessing rests on those who strive to live correctly. His guidance will bring them peace as they make daily decisions.  Dear Father, you know how sincerely I want to follow you. Please keep me in your presence, so that I can be at peace as I make decisions today. 

5.   Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.  God’s blessing rests on those who are seriously drained from being merciful.  His loving presence will keep them filled up. Dear Father, you know how much I want to spread your mercy. Please fill me with your loving presence, so that I will have enough mercy for others. 

 6. “Blessed are they pure in heart, for they will see God.” God’s blessing rests on those who struggle to keep their heart clean. They will see God is with them. Dear Father, you know my desire is to have a clean heart. Please help me to see that you are with me, helping me to be clean.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” God’s blessing rests on those who do not give up making peace. His children are peacemakers, and he will join them in their efforts. Dear Father, you know that I am devoted to bringing peace, but it is so elusive. Please be my guide me so I can become a better peacemaker.8.  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. God’s blessing rests on those who are persecuted for doing what is right. The kingdom of the havens is for them, and it makes everything new. Dear Father, please stay with me when I am persecuted for doing what is right. Help me to dwell in the kingdom of the heavens, where your presence makes everything new.

8.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in the heavens, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   God’s blessing will rest on you while you are being insulted, persecuted and slandered because you follow me. Joy will arrive during persecution, because of  God’s presence. His presence has always been with those who follow him despite opposition, like the prophets.  Even during persecution his presence—the kingdom of the heavens—will give you overflowing joy.   Great is your reward in the heavens”  means your reward will arrive in your personal space. Our Father sends joy during persecution, and Jesus lets us know about this as an encouragement,  “He will be with you and walk give you joy. This teaching does not mean, “Hang in there because when you get to heaven you’ll get a special reward for being persecuted.”  It comes just after the 8 blessings (beatitudes), continuing the idea that our Father helps us during times of struggle.  

We are  walking in the good news of the kingdom when we go with confidence to any of the hopeless people around us and effortlessly convey assurance that they can now enter a blessed life with God. Who would be on your list of “hopeless blessables” as found in today’s world? Certainly all of those on Jesus’ lists, for though they are merely illustrative, they also are timeless. We can, following his lead as our rabbi ,share the good news of  the gospel for those around us. Who would you regard as the most unfortunate people around you?

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Creating Hesed (heart focused) Community and Increasing Hesed Love

Creating Hesed (heart focused) Community and Increasing Hesed Love  

Hesed can also be spelled chesed  in English because the initial h is guttural.  Saying “hess-ed” is closer to the Hebrew than saying “chess-ed’. The emphasis goes on the first syllable. 

The Hebrew word hesed describes the core of God’s character.  Hesed has often been translated  as loyalty because it refers to a love born out of relationship or attachment.  God loves us not because we believe right things or practice good behavior.  God loves us because God is bonded to us.  Hesed refers to the “sticky love” that is glued to us, stays attached regardless or of how we act or what value we add.  God is described as hesed 253 times in the Old Testament.  The Greek word “agape” is used to translate and describe hesed in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 4 “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

  • As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
  • But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! Romans 5:8
  • May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14  
  • Christ’s love  compels us and urges us on; we are ruled by the love of Christ, His love has the first and last word in everything we do….anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 1Corinthians 5:14-18 
  • Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31, 39  

1. Increasing hesed requires a community of God’s people where we belong.  We require a group identity in order increase hesed.  I need a people who will help me do it

  • Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. ”1 Peter 2:10
  • God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ezekiel 37:27
  • Hesed is developed through interaction with others.  We love God because God first loved us—and while we were yet sinners and enemies.  It starts with God’s unconditional hesed  love and moves forward as our hearts are changed by that love. Hesed  love grows as we experience it from others and “pay it forward”. God’s hesed love is central to all good things.  Every place where Christians show the character of Christ is the result of hesed.  My heart is drawn toward a love that even my enemies cannot stop.  
  • Hesed is the kind of strong attachment to others that no matter what they do or how many times they do it we still want to be with them.  Hesed binds us together. We are most profoundly  shaped by who loves us and whom we love and so we attach to them.
  • We are never get so old that we lose the appreciation for someone with the ability to see us and love what they see. We remind each other who we are. What anchors us is to whom we are attached.  We behave according to whom, to what we belong. 
  • Communities produce bonded friendship over time when deep attachments are formed in which I know the worst about you but love you too much to leave you in the mess you’re in. 

2.  Increasing hesed love requires a  multi-generational community with the weak and strong receiving and giving hesed love 

  1. Upstream people who know more about hesed love than we do. We identify and share our weaknesses and ask for help. Christians burn out because keep acting like they are stronger than they actually are. 
  2. Peers with whom we practice hesed love
  3. Downstream friends who want to grow in hesed  love.  

3. Increasing hesed love requires God sight,  seeing the way God sees us and those with whom we are sharing hesed love. We interact with God by learning to hear God’s voice.

  • God speaks to us primarily through our thoughts. Hebrew poetry rhymes thoughts, not sounds.  “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1 This means that as God’s poetry, our thoughts can rhyme with God’s thoughts; rhyming the same thought with different words. 
  • When we are hearing God we may not be sure it was us or God saying it.  Often in conversation we easily finish each others sentences and thoughts. 
  • Being grateful connects us to God’s presence and helps us hear God’s voice.  Psalm 100;4

I feel grateful. I open my heart and listen to God until I feel peace.

I notice what gave me peace and tell someone

4. The best indicator of growing hesed is the increasing love for our enemies. We are learning to love our enemies.  Jesus teaches us, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

  • It is impossible to have an attachment with God and not be attached to our neighbor and enemies. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”1 John 4:20 
  • Our brain easily makes enemies out of the people around us when we are hurt or afraid.  It is this tendency of the brain to make enemies out of people who hurt us that lies behind every character flaw.  A sign of a healthy attachment hesed love is whether you hurt me or not I am in your life.
  • In order to give hesed love to an enemy we need to know the signs when relational circuits in my brain are off or dimmed.

I just want to make a problem person or feeling go away.

I don’t want to listen to what others feel or say

My mind is “Locked onto” something upsetting.

I don’t want to be connected to___________(someone I usually like). 

I just want to get away, or fight, or freeze

I more aggressively interrogate, blame and fix others.

My cravings become big.

I struggle to feel appreciation or gratitude 

  • I turn on relational circuits through Curiosity, Appreciation, Kindness, Envelope conversation 

Curiosity helps me listen with my heart.

Appreciation helps me feel attached. 

 Kindness—increases hesed when we feed each other.  Hesed (attachment) is designed to grow any time we are fed.  The one who feeds us is the one who gives us life and the one we get attached to.

Envelope conversations help me keep the relationship bigger than the problem. Start with the history and importance of the relationship, discuss the problem, end with the hope that the relationship will be even stronger once the problem is solved.

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Joe’s Favorite Jokes

Joe’s Favorite Jokes

I enjoy telling jokes.  I have a habit that when I get to the punch line I start laughing because I starting thinking how funny it is. Sometimes I  laugh harder after I tell the punch line.  People often laugh at me more than the joke.  Laughter is contagious.  Jokes are one way of creating belonging—sharing joy together.  “Laughter is the closet thing to the grace of God.”  Karl Barth

1, “Good Luck Mr. Gorsky” 

When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” statement, but followed it by several remarks. Mostly routine conversation with the other astronauts. Just before he re-entered the lunar lander, however, he made the enigmatic remark “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.” Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky” statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled and dodged the question. On July 5, 1995, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the twenty-six-year-old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question. When he was a child, he was playing baseball with a friend in the back yard. His friend hit a fly ball, which landed in the front of his neighbor’s bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky. “Sex! You want sex?! You’ll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

2. Wedding anniversary

Ole and Lena told their friend, Sven, that they had been married for 30 years. Sven asked Ole if he had done anything to celebrate with Lena, and Ole said that sounded like a good idea, so he took Lena to Norway. Five years later Sven suggested that Ole find another way to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Ole said that sounded like a good idea, so he went back to Norway, picked up Lena and brought her home

3. Arab Sheik 

An Arab Sheik was admitted to the hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to store his blood in case the need arose. As the gentleman had a rare type of blood, it couldn’t be found locally, so, the call went out to everywhere.  A resident of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota was located who had the right blood type whose name was Ole who willingly donated his blood for the Arab. After the surgery, the Arab sent Ole, as appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, a pile of diamonds & several million U.S. dollars. A couple of days later, once again, the Arab had to go through some corrective surgery. His doctor telephoned Ole who was more than happy to donate his blood again. After the second surgery, the Arab sent Ole a thank you card and five pounds of lutefisk. Ole was shocked that time the Arab did not reciprocate with a new car, diamonds, and money. He phoned the Arab & said: “I thought you would be generous again, and you would give me another BMW, diamonds & money… But you only gave me a thank you card & some lutefisk. To this the Arab replied: “Yes but now I have Norwegian blood in my veins so I have to think twice before I spend.”

4. ”Wonderful tool for reducing stress”

In a Time magazine article on meditation the writer recommended a helpful exercise for stress management which was backed up by the latest psychological literature. What is amazing is that it actually works. Imagine you are near a beautiful mountain stream, hearing the soothing sound of water flowing, birds chirping, you feel warm sunlight with a cool breeze, the stream has crystal clear water which enables you to easily make out the face of the person you are holding under water

5. Golf clubs

Lena, Ole, if I died and you married again would you share my golf clubs with your new wife

Ole: No, she’s left handed.

6.A judge in a divorce court is explaining to Ole and Lena the settlement he arranged for them i(anyone who is a friend of Ole and Lena knows right away that this is a joke because they will never divorce each other)

Judge speaking to Ole: I have decided to give Lena $800 a month for support

Ole: That’s just fine Judge, once in a while I will give her a few bucks myself.

7.Ole, Sven and Lars die in a tragic lutefisk accident. They are met by God on the stairway to heaven. God says, “There are 3,000 steps to heaven. It’s very serious up there. I’ll tell you a joke on each 1,000th step you reach. If you laugh you go to hell.” So they start walking and reach to the first 1,000th step. God tells a joke, Lars laughs out loud and goes straight to hell. Ole and Sven look at each other nervously. On the 2,000th step God tells another joke, Sven tries his best but laughs and goes to straight to hell. On the 3,000th step. God tells the last and best joke, Ole doesn’t laugh and walks through the gate into heaven. Suddenly, Ole bursts out laughing hysterically. God asks, “What are you laughing about?” Ole replies, “That is really funny. I just got the first joke!”.

8.Oak Street 

Ole: (Calling 911)  My wife Lena is really really sick, she could die

911: Where do you live?

Ole: We live on Eucalyptus street

911: Could you spell that?
Ole: ….hesitating, pausing….. What if I drag Lena down to Oak street and you pick her up there?

9.Doughnuts

Sven and Ole are walking down the road.  Ole is carrying a bag of doughnuts in his hand. Ole says to Sven, “If you guess how many doughnuts are in my bag, you can have them both”

10. Ole was bragging to his boss one day, “I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them.” Tired of his boasting, his boss called his bluff, “OK, Ole how about Tom Cruise?” “Sure, yes, Tom and I very old friends, and I can prove it.” Ole and his boss fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise’s door, and sure enough, Tom Cruise, shouts, “Ole! Great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch!” Although impressed, Ole’s boss is still skeptical. After they leave Cruise’s house, he tells Ole that he thinks Ole’s knowing Cruise was just lucky. “No, no, just name anyone else,” Ole says. ”President Obama,” his boss quickly retorts. Ya sure,” Ole says, “I know him.” We’ll fly out to Washington to see him.” Off they go. At the White House, Obama spots Ole on the tour and motions him and his boss over, saying, “Ole, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let’s have a cup of coffee first and catch up.” The boss is shaken now, but still not totally convinced. After they leave the White House grounds, he expresses his doubts to Ole, who again implores him to name anyone else. “The Pope,” his boss replies. “Sure!” says Ole. “I’ve known the Pope a long time.” The unconvinced boss flies them off to Rome. Ole and his boss are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Ole says; “This will never work. I can’t catch the Pope’s eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know the guards so let me just go upstairs and I’ll come out on the balcony with the Pope.” And he disappears into the crowd headed toward the Vatican. Fifteen minutes later Ole emerges with the Pope on the balcony. By the time Ole returns, his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics. Working his way to his boss’s side, Ole asks him, “What happened?” His boss looks up and says, “I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the Japanese tourist next to me asked, ‘Who’s that on the balcony with Ole?

11,Losing weight by skipping a day

Lena: Ole you are 78 years old and are overweight. Go to the doctor and see what he says (Ole goes to the doctor)
Doctor: Ole, here is your diet. You will lose 5 pounds if you do this for 2 weeks, eat regularly two days and skip a day (Ole is happy to tell Lena the doctor’s diet to lose 5 pounds; after 2 weeks Ole goes back to the doctor)
Doctor: I am shocked Ole, this is amazing, you lost 60 pounds. Did you follow my instructions?
Ole: I’ll tell you doctor, I thought I was going to drop dead on the 3rd day.
Doctor: From the hunger?
Ole: No doctor, not the hunger it was from all the skipping

12. Counting Ribs I am warning you this is a groaner. Eve was concerned because Adam would get up in the middle of the night, leave the house for 3 hours and then come back to bed. After he did this 3 nights in a row, while he was sleeping she reached over and counted his ribs

13. Acute appendix.So Ole has serious lower back pain and goes to the ER. He is surprised and also happy to be examined by a woman doctor. She checks out his appendix and tells Ole, “You have acute appendicitis.” Ole, smiling, says to her,

“Doctor, I bet you have a cute one too.”

14. “One Thing I don’t Like about Jesus”  Ole is enjoying his studies at Bible school. His wife Lena tells Ole her strong opinion about drinking wine, very opposed to Christians doing this, big sin. Jesus was against it. Ole is unsuccessful in changing her mind. Then he has a great idea from his Bible School studies,He says to Lena, “How about Jesus, changing all that water into wine.” Lena says, “Ya, that’s one thing I don’t like about Jesus.”

15. Celibate/celebrate Someone died and went to hell and discovered Martin Luther there. He asked Dr. Luther, “What in the world are you doing here?” and Luther answered, “It was works after all.” Another for Catholics: One of the Popes was receiving a tour of heaven and saw St Peter studying a Greek New Testament text crying loudly over and over again “Oh no, Oh no, Oh no!” The pope asks St. Peter what was wrong. St. Peter replies, “The text reads, “celebrate” not “celibate.”

16, Parking car during snow removal

Ole and Lena are listening to the Lake Wobegon morning weather report on the radio predicting 10 inches of snow, and declaring everyone must park on the odd numbered side of the street for snow removal. Ole quickly puts on his snow boots and coat and moves his car. The next day they hear the forecast is for 10 more inches of more snow and everyone must park on the even numbered side of the street. Ole quickly puts on his snow boots and coat and moves his car to the other side of the street. The next day would you believe it doesn’t stop snowing and the blizzard winds knock out the power on the radio just when the announcer is saying, “you must park your cars on the……” Ole asks Lena, “What am I going to do now” Lena replies, “Ole, just leave the car in the garage

17. Revelation 3;20 Genesis 3:10  A pastor rang the door bell of a single woman who had visited his church. He heard sounds inside the home but the woman did not come to the door. After waiting a while he left his calling card after writing Revelation 3:20 on the back of it (for those who have not memorized this verse, Jesus is standing at the door knocking…. saying anyone who hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and have fellowship with her/him). The next Sunday the pastor was shaking hands and this new visitor handed him a card on which she had written Genesis 3:10. Later that day the pastor looked up Genesis 3:10 and read, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I hid, for I was afraid, because I was naked.

18. Swedish introvert/extrovert How do you tell if a Swedish person is an introvert or an extrovert? Answer, A Swedish extrovert looks down at your shoes (not his shoes). When John Ortberg’s wife encouraged him to look people in the eye when he was talking to them he responded “I’m Swedish. Swedes never look anybody in the eye. Not even during eye examinations. That’s why there are no Swedish ophthalmologists.

19. Speed limit not the highway number A cop pulled over Ole, getting older, for driving too slow. Ole asked him what was wrong. He told the office he was going the speed limit, 22 miles an hour. The officer said, “Ole, that is the highway route number.” Just then the officer notices Ole’s wife, Lena, in the passenger seat. Lena’s eyes are bulging and she is as white as snow. He asks Ole, “What is wrong with Lena?” Ole replies, “Oh, she’ll be all right. We just got off Route 88.”

20. This is a joke based on ’René Descartes’ well known philosophy, “Cogito ergo sum.” “I think, therefore I am.” 

A man walked into a bar….
Bartender: What drink are you thinking of having?

Man: I am not thinking of anything right now.
The man disappeared.

21.Tourist outside Carnegie Hall speaking to a policeman: 

Tourist: “How do I get in?”

Policeman: ” Practice

22, Bible riddle jokes especially for grandpas to ask grandkids. 

Where was the Apostle Paul going on the road to Damascus? Damascus

Why did God paint the sunset with his left hand? Jesus was sitting on his right hand,

What was God’s response to Moses when he complained about his painful headache climbing up Mt. Sinai? Moses here are two tablets.

How many of each species (put the emphasis on this part) did Moses take into the ark?  zero; it was Noah not Moses.

23. Ole had grown old and was bed ridden. He realized that he was coming to the end of his life. One day he summoned his wife Lena and asked her to gather all of their money and their valuables and place them in the attic. He explained that when he died his spirit would stop in the attic and collect all of the valuables on his way to heaven. Lena did as Ole asked. Ole died and following the funeral friends and family along with the minister gathered back at the house. Lena remembered the valuables in the attic and asked everyone to check on them with her. When they got up to the attic they found all of the valuables still intact. Lena asked the pastor what he thinks happened. The pastor responded, “Maybe he should have asked you to place everything in the basement.”

24.  Ole, Sven and Lars die in a tragic lutefisk accident. They are met by God on the stairway to heaven. God says, “There are 3,000 steps to heaven. It’s very serious up there. I’ll tell you a joke on each 1,000th step you reach. If you laugh you go to hell.” So they start walking and reach to the first 1,000th step. God tells a joke, Lars laughs out loud and goes straight to hell. Ole and Sven look at each other nervously. On the 2,000th step God tells another joke, Sven tries his best but laughs and goes to straight to hell. On the 3,000th step. God tells the last and best joke, Ole doesn’t laugh and walks through the gate into heaven. Suddenly, Ole bursts out laughing hysterically. God asks, “What are you laughing about?” Ole replies, “That is really funny. I just got the first joke!”.

25,  Sven and Ole were talking.

Sven: My wife doesn’t understand me, does yours?

Ole : My wife Lena doesn’t even know you!

26. Name dropping 

I am paying attention to how often I “drop names” and not doing this. I can’t tell you how many times Billy Graham and Mother Teresa have encouraged me to do this.

27  Ole, Sven and Lars die in a tragic lutefisk accident. They are met by God on the stairway to heaven. God says, “There are 3,000 steps to heaven. It’s very serious up there. I’ll tell you a joke on each 1,000th step you reach. If you laugh you go to hell.” So they start walking and reach to the first 1,000th step. God tells a joke, Lars laughs out loud and goes straight to hell. Ole and Sven look at each other nervously. On the 2,000th step God tells another joke, Sven tries his best but laughs and goes to straight to hell. On the 3,000th step. God tells the last and best joke, Ole doesn’t laugh and walks through the gate into heaven. Suddenly, Ole bursts out laughing hysterically. God asks, “What are you laughing about?” Ole replies, “That is really funny. I just got the first joke!”.

28,  Sven and Ole were talking.

Sven: My wife doesn’t understand me, does yours?

Ole : My wife Lena doesn’t even know you!

29. I am paying attention to how often I “drop names” and not doing this. I can’t tell you how many times Billy Graham and Mother Teresa have encouraged me to do this.

30. Ole driving too slow 

A highway patrolwoman pulled over Ole for driving too slow.

Ole:  What’s wrong officer?  I was going the speed limit, 22 miles an hour.

Officer: Ole, that is the highway route number.

Just then the officer notices Ole’s wife, Lena, in the passenger seat. Lena’s eyes are bulging and her face is as white as snow.

Officer:  Ole, what is wrong with Lena?

Ole : Oh, she’ll be all right. We just got off Route 88.

 

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Healing Depression

HEALING DEPRESSION

HEALING DEPRESSION

DR. JOE JOHNSON, pastorjoejohnson@gmail.com

 

What is depression?

Healing the Wounded Spirit, John & Paula Sandford.

Depression is a condition in which our personal spirit has died to its capacity to sustain the person fully, either emotionally or physically.  Despondency is not the same as depression.  We all have highs and lows.  Normal people know that tomorrow they will feel better.  The key factor is that they still possess hope. 

 

A depressed person cannot help himself.  He must be resurrected b y the prayers of others.  Overcoming depression is not a matter of will power.  Recovery is not a matter of thinking more positively, making a series of positive confessions.  Depressed people are not only without hope. They know that tomorrow will not be better.

Loving Yourself, Walter Trobisch

At the root of every depression is the feeling of having lost something.  The deepest root of depression is the feeling that I have lost myself.  There are different kinds of losses:  Loss of job completed, battle won, adrenaline after preaching Sunday morning, confidence, health, self_respect, youth, job, or retirement.


Depression is not a sign of weakness.  Strong people fall into it.  The German word for depression is schwermut, which comes from two German words, schwer, the word for heavy, and mut, the word for courage.  The word schwermut means the courage to be heavy_hearted, the courage to live with what is heavy or difficult. Shallow, superficial people seldom have depressions.  It requires a certain inner depth of mind to be in depression.  Artists and musicians tend to be more susceptible to depressions perhaps because this courage to be heavy is a prerequisite for fruitfulness. 

The Lost Virtue of Happiness:  Discovering the Disciplines of the Good Life

J.P. Moreland & Klaus Issler

Chapter Seven:  Defeating Two Hardships of Life:  Anxiety and Depression

pp. 160-161, “The Physical Aspects of Anxiety and Depression.”

Exercise enchains the release of endorphins in the brain which help to elevate our mood and sense of well being…weight training or some form of exercise  that tears down, restores and strengthens muscles helps regulate the level of serotonin in the brain, something critical for eliminating anxiety and depression. 

 

QUESTIONS WHICH MAY HELP A PERSON RECOGNIZE THE PRESENCE OF DEPRESSION

Ask two or three, not all of these questions.

1.  Do you wonder sometimes if you will ever be happy again?

2.  Do you sometimes feel like you are not your real self?

3.  Does it seem at times that part of you has died?  What losses have you experienced?

4.  Do you wonder sometimes if your life counts for anything? Does my life have purpose or meaning?

5.  Do you sometimes feel like your spirit is saying, “I quit”? Do you lack physical energy to do little things?

6.   Do you speak a lot of “shoulds” to yourself?  Feel shame for not being what you believe you should be?

7.  Do you hesitate to ask help for others or from God because you’ve been disappointed too many times and don’t want to be disappointed again?

8.  Do you have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual? Loss or increase of appetite?

9.  Is every little decision a major burden?  Do you find that you can’t make yourself do the simplest household chores or tasks on the job, which you used to do easily?

10.  When did the depression begin and what was happening in your life at the time?

 

Ministry of healing prayer

Before praying say something like, “I can help you.  I know a person who was depressed and learned some things that helped her.  I have faith that this prayer will help. I will believe for you.   You do not have to believe.  A depressed person knows that if anything is up to him, it won’t work. Say anything that will help lift any pressure they are feeling to perform or do it right.

Prayer

 

Jesus, bring to life the part of (name) which has been lost or stopped living.  Light the candle in her spirit that has been snuffed out.  Bring to life the real person.  Jesus be with (name) when she started withdrawing from life because of all the pain.  Minister Your love and acceptance to (name).

I know Lord that (name) may not feel anything at present.  We are not doing this on the basis of feelings, but on the basis of my faith and I know it will work.    Sooner or later, maybe today, maybe next wee, but certainly in the near future, this person will begin to feel better, like suddenly seeing a blade of grass popping up through the snow.  I’m going to hold you in my heart.  I will keep on praying until you are totally free and out of depression. I know it will work, Lord and I thank and praise you for it.

Follow up suggestions:

 

Ask, “What is one thing you do when you feel most like your real self?”  Encourage the person to do one thing like take a bath, or walk, or do something that helps them feel like their real self.  Take the initiative to make another appointment for prayer.  I want to see you again. 

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God designed us to create belonging, the joy we share around us

Belonging is experiencing  “hospitality,” “community,” “being at home”, “feeling safe and welcome.”   Belonging is the joy and safe place we create around us.  “….each member  belongs to all the others…practice hospitality.” Romans 12: 5, 13

1.  Jesus experiences belonging during his baptism.   “I am your Father, you are my son, I love you.  You belong.”  The Trinity is a picture of belonging. Each member of the Trinity belongs to the other members.  Father loves the Son, Jesus loves Father and reveals Father’s love.  Father sends Holy Spirit who enables us to call God Father and reminds us we belong.

2.  We experience belonging though Jesus’ presence with us (Immanuel) when we receive Jesus’ love, delight in us, glad to be with us.  Holy Spirit affirms our identity as beloved sons and daughters of our dear Father always near to us..Romans 8:15

3.  God designed us to create belonging which is joy we we share around us. Joy is the sense that we are glad to be together. Being “present” with others means we are tracking with their feelings.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.,” Romans 12:15  We are designed by God to create belonging.  We are glad to be together with one another.

4.  Joy is what happens in your brain when someone is glad to be with you.  Jim Wilder, author of Joyful Journey, RARE leadership, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You. “Joy is that sparkle in your eye, that moment when your face lights up and softens in response to someone else’s smile!. Joy is a neurological response to someone else being glad to be with you and when you are glad to be with them!  Dopamine is naturally and BEST produced this way!”  Being joyful and happy may happen together but are not the same.

5.  Jesus creates belonging all the time, e.g. for the apostle John and Mary, Zacchaeus, Peter and He promises a safe to belong which he is preparing for us in heaven. John 14.

6.  Normally we think belonging is what people give us instead of what we create around us.  I create belonging with The Trinity when I pray, “I belong to Jesus, Holy Spirit, my dear Father always near.”

7.  The weak create belonging for the strong whenever  we receive from one another. Strangers create belonging. The Samaritan woman, an outsider, creates belonging for her town.

8. We create belonging, the joy we create around us, whenever we….

  • love with vulnerability, sharing our weakness
  • touch with honor and compassion
  • smile whenever we greet those we love and use sincere voice tones
  • ask questions that invite others to tell us truthfully how they are doing
  • express empathy which validates whatever the person is feeling and the size of the emotion, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
  • say, “I am glad to be with you.” when someone asks “How are you?”
  • Pass the peace (shalom) (1) I feel grateful. (2) I open my heart and listen to God until I feel peace.(3) I notice  what gave me peace, and what shifted in my body.  (4) tell someone.
  • Express appreciation

9. “Strangers Create Belonging”  Identify the ways my daughter Anne and three Somali refugees create belonging for one another. See her recent FB post below. 

“My family has been offering temporary housing to three Somali refugees  (mother and daughters ages 11 and 14) for the past two weeks, and I want to tell you about it. I really started out just thinking I could be a “cultural navigator”. Because I wanted to do something and because Cuong (my husband) was a refugee, and because the commitment was only a few hours a week for eight months. When I brought up the idea to Cuong he said, “Do you realize what we are getting ourselves into?” I responded, “Well, it’s not like they will be living with us!”

Fast forward three months I found myself saying yes to having room in our house. Right after I said yes, I was not at all sure. But Anne Lamott popped up on my Facebook feed, saying: “You cannot help but love and be loved. You might as well give up on shutting down, staying armored or buttressed, refusing to be part of this love thing, because it is going to win. Trust me on this. You are doomed.”

So I accepted my doom. There have been many miracles since their arrival. Help, in all forms. The magic of seeing snow for the first time. The amount of hysterical laughter over Oregon’s puffy coats, indoor cats, rocking chairs, and my pronunciation of Somali words. The excitement of baking a cake together and the peacefulness of getting henna done. And I am so happy that these simple joys fill our days after everything this family has been through.”

But my absolute favorite interactions have been learning from each other in the kitchen and sitting down together for meals. After a few days of tentatively eating from each other’s courses, I came home to a fully set table, with food on the stove, and a note saying, “Eat that food!” My eyes filled with tears because I have heard so many saying that there is not enough to go around. Here was evidence of generosity beyond the limitations of what this family had to give. It brought back a lesson from my childhood, about loaves and fishes, and how when we show up with a little it is readily turned into abundance. I am certainly richer today.”

 

 

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Thought Rhyming with God

Bbliography: Joyful Journey: Listening to Immanuel, Wilder, Kang, Loppnow. https://www.facebook.com/equippinghearts/ “photos, Ed Khouri

Poetry in Scripture does not rhyme sounds; it follows the Hebrew pattern and rhymes thoughts. Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” The second line is a thought rhyme not a word rhyme. We are God’s “poetry” (poiema”) Ephesians 2:10. This means that as God’s poetry, our thoughts can rhyme with God’s thoughts.

Often in conversation we easily finish each others sentences and thoughts. In a mutual mind state we are not sure where our thoughts stop and the other person’s thoughts begin. The structure in the brain called the cingulate cortex makes it possible for meaningful communication to occur between two different minds by establishing a mutual-mind state. When establishing a mutual-mind state, we learn to think and feel the way people we love think and feel.

The interesting aspect of the mutual-mind state in the brain is that it works faster than the conscious mind so that we are never sure whether a mutual-mind thought is theirs or ours. This is what happens with God when we ak and listen for God’s response to something we appreciate (Immanuel Journaling). We expect a similarity between God-thoughts and our thoughts.

Thoughts that rhyme with God’s thoughts produce shalom (peace). Shalom is a state of harmony where everything works together, makes sense and is good. Shalom is the “peace of Christ” which rules in our hearts. Shalom acts like a referee in our lives who “stops the action” every time shalom is missing. The Greek word “brabeuo” literally means “sit asan umpire”. The rule for our life and relationships is that everything is in shalom. This happens when we are synchronized with God’s thoughts, when our thoughts rhyme with God’s thoughts. A shalom check tests for the witness of Holy Spirit within us and between us, whether we accept what we have written as truth about ourselves and if our experience matches God’s character as revealed in Scripture.

Shalom checklist

  • Do I feel peacefully calm
  • Am I sensing God’s loving presence?
  • Am I confident that nothing will take me away from God’s love?
  • Am I portraying my weakness accurately?
  • Am I still sensing God’s interactive presence in my painful memory?
  • Have my joy, peace and hope increased?
  • Has my desire to love and serve others increased?
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